Wanted in 2012: A courageous president

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When America has a politically divisive crisis of huge proportions, we look to the president to provide leadership to unite us on the sometimes painful, but necessary, corrective action.

The ballooning federal debt is just such a divisive and inevitable crisis, and it is our greatest national security threat. The situation sorely needs President Obama’s leadership, and he has failed to provide it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA created the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission to find a way to reduce the deficit. After a majority of the commissioners approved a balanced deficit reduction plan, the president ignored the results. Deficit reduction needed his leadership, and he did not provide it.

In his proposed 2013 budget, the president spelled out his 10-year revenue and spending plan. The highlights were no cuts in entitlements; tax increases for those making more than $250,000; continuing deficits; and a dramatically increased federal debt.

Taxing the wealthy may be politically popular, but it reduces the 10-year deficit by less than 10 percent. The additional taxes on the wealthy that the president proposed would increase revenue by $700 billion over the next 10 years. During that period, the debt is expected to increase by $8.5 trillion.

The federal debt would continue its exorbitant climb and threaten our future.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS Gov. Mitt Romney has not provided a plan, but he has given us the easy part – namely, tax cuts. He has promised a 20 percent reduction in all personal income tax rates; reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent; elimination of the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax; and a lowering of the capital gains tax for couples making less than $200,000.

Romney says his tax plan will raise the same amount of money because he will eliminate wasteful deductions and tax expenditures.

But the largest deductions affect the middle class, not corporations. The four greatest deductions or tax expenditures in the tax code are: untaxed employee health insurance benefits; home mortgage interest; untaxed contributions to retirement plans; and lower tax rates for capital gains and dividends.

THUS, ACCORDING to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the middle class would see a net tax increase. The loss of popular deductions would cost taxpayers more than their savings from lower tax rates. The wealthy would get a tax cut.

A plan with increased taxes for the middle class and tax cuts for the wealthy would not be approved by either party in Congress. Romney’s tax plan would be dead on arrival.

Romney avoids further bad news by not telling us what spending he would cut to reduce the deficit. Under Romney’s plan, the federal debt will continue its inexorable climb. What sounds so painless when unspecified is near impossible in reality.

For fiscal conservatives, the presidential candidates are a bust. Neither candidate has a viable plan to fix the deficit. Obama’s plan is mathematically inadequate, and Romney’s plan is mathematically dubious, and politically impossible.

Their plans are qualitatively different to appeal to different constituencies. Obama’s spending would benefit the middle class and the poor, while Romney’s tax cuts would benefit the wealthy.

But each plan is a different irresponsible path to the same devastating debt crisis. Both condemn future generations to massive tax hikes and spending cuts that will dominate their financial lives.

Make no mistake. Fixing the deficit is hard, and it is the greatest political challenge of our time. It will require shared sacrifice from rich and poor, right and left, east and west.

America’s president needs the skill and courage to unite us in this struggle, not divide us.

(The writer is a retired U.S. Navy commander. He lives and writes in Savannah.)

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Riverman1 08/26/12 - 08:08 am
I believe Romney would kick

I believe Romney would kick start the economy by lowering taxes and take more people off of government charity.

Doug Duncan
Doug Duncan 08/26/12 - 10:30 am

We need a President who will tell the truth and have the political will to address our country's financial problem. 66% of our federal spending goes to entitlements. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, Government pensions, etc. These non discretionary items consume every dollar of taxes collected. Actual Government operations are being funded thru debt. I perceive this issue to be the greatest threat to our survival as a nation.

BloodySunday 08/26/12 - 01:33 pm
There are no moderates in

There are no moderates in today's Republican Party. Republicans in Congress have voted in lockstep on virtually every piece of their extreme right - wing agenda - to redefine rape, to turn Medicare into a voucher program, to defund Planned Parenthood, to repeal President Obama's healthcare law, and so much more.Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan nationalizes the right - wing agenda that House Republicans have been pushing for the past two years. So, now is not the time to let Republicans take control over any elected office and I you heard the statistics announced by news media that unemployment is high for blacks in Richmond County and across the nation, so use your time wisley ( don't forget about looking for a job) since you aint working and take your young grown adults that live in your house 18yrs old and register them to vote and make sure all black Augustans show up and vote on Nov. 6 it's all out warfare against the low - income( Drug testing for government assistance,payments weeks 26 to 20 cut from your unemployment insurance brought on by Georgia state - controlled Republicans, this what happened in 2010 in the Georgia's govern race and Nathan Deal won, when you Black voters stay home and did not vote, all election are vital ,never stay home) and working. families, "I see you at the voting booth."Can't you see will are underattack."

DMPerryJr 08/26/12 - 03:42 pm
One Little Question

"Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

If so, tell me the ways.

KSL 08/26/12 - 07:27 pm
Well our household income is

Well our household income is down an unbelievable amount. Reminds me of the drop we suffered as the result of Carter's reign.

gargoyle 08/26/12 - 07:35 pm
The spiral down ecconomics of

The spiral down ecconomics of the current administration are the cause of a lot of the discontent felt by everyone. Class warfare is one of the byproducts of stiffling the economy. By design or accident Obama's leadership hasn't promoted harmony or clarity.What we need is leaders who forget politics and put these United States of America first.

madgerman 08/26/12 - 08:30 pm
I think the problem is kinda

I think the problem is kinda like what happens routinely in a failed marriage. Many times two succesful people get married and try to live the high life. One gets to liking the high life so much he or she starts living off plastic. Eventually the marriage disolves and the happiness is gone and can't be replaced, but the awful debt that remains will be with them for years down the road even if they remarry. Now back to why can't the President fix all the financial problems he was left with? Perhaps its because of the wild west style spending the former President was involved in.

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